March 01, 2004
Parting Gifts by Charlotte Vale Allen

Parting Gifts by Charlotte Vale Allen: a touching look at the relationships between people and their families.

The novel starts off with Kyra, daughter to a well-know director father and actress mother, learning that her husband Gary has died in a freak accident. A few days later, while coming home from Gary’s funeral, Kyra is confronted by a teenage mother that insists that Kyra is her own mother and that she must now watch her son whom she plans to leave with social services if Kyra won’t comply. Kyra is confused to how this girl could think she’s her mother (she was born with a birth defect that left her sterile, so it’s an impossibility), but agrees to accept the neglected boy since she always wanted children. The rest of the book deals with Kyra and Jesse learning to live together and Kyra coming to terms with her family until an important decision that Jesse must make changes life for everyone.

I haven’t read any of Charlotte Vale Allen’s books before, but I must confess that at first I didn’t think I was going to like it. The book seemed to start off a little stilted and while we’re reading about Kyra’s family as she comes to grips with Gary’s death, I thought it was going to go right off into the land of caricature (which, in retrospect, is probably the point). Fortunately, as soon as Jesse was introduced, this proved not to be the case.

Ultimately, I found the novel to be really touching - I even cried towards the end. The characters were very real and believable and while some of it was pretty predictable, it was still very enjoyable.